The healthcare industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by telemedicine, real-time diagnostics, smart hospitals and access to digital therapies, as well as the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality (AR), robotics and data management practices. In the last three years alone, there have been over 106,000 patents filed and granted in the healthcare industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: AI-assisted medical imaging

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity. 

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have. 

200+ innovations will shape the healthcare industry 

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the healthcare industry using innovation intensity models built on over 443,000 patents, there are 200+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry. 

Within the emerging innovation stage, drug delivery device security, microscopic image analysis models, and cellular imaging techniques are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Smart balloon catheters, automated immunoassay analysers, and AI-assisted MRI are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are smart fitness training system and non-invasive physiological monitoring, which are now well established in the industry.  

Innovation S-curve for artificial intelligence in the healthcare industry 

AI-assisted medical imaging is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence 

Medical imaging is a vital diagnostic tool for identifying diseases, monitoring treatment, and projecting results. Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are being adopted to enhance and reinvent patient care amid the growing volume and complexity of healthcare data as well as the continuously changing healthcare environment. AI in medical imaging can improve precision medicine, analyze patient risk factors, improve medical tests, and reduce the workload for physicians. 

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 20 companies, spanning technology vendors, established healthcare companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of AI-assisted medical imaging. 

Key players in AI-assisted medical imaging – a disruptive innovation in the healthcare industry  

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators. 

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’. 

Patent volumes related to AI-assisted medical imaging

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Heartflow 341 Unlock company profile
Stryker 93 Unlock company profile
EBM 42 Unlock company profile
Align Technology 29 Unlock company profile
Carl Zeiss Stiftung 21 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 21 Unlock company profile
Siemens 13 Unlock company profile
Surgical Theater 11 Unlock company profile
Establishment Labs Holdings 9 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 9 Unlock company profile
Emovi 9 Unlock company profile
Ortoma 9 Unlock company profile
Thermo Fisher Scientific 8 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 8 Unlock company profile
Furukawa 8 Unlock company profile
Dental Monitoring 7 Unlock company profile
Ossur hf 6 Unlock company profile
Blue Sail Medical 5 Unlock company profile
NovoCure 5 Unlock company profile
Centre De Recherche Medico Dentaire AM 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Heartflow is the leading patent filer in the AI-assisted medical imaging market. Some other leading patent filers include Stryker and EBM. 

In terms of application diversity, Sony Group leads the pack, followed by Heartflow and Stryker. With regards to geographic reach, Stryker leads, followed by Ortoma and Carl Zeiss Stiftung. 

AI-assisted medical image analysis has a promising future that offers enhanced, accurate and early detection of chronic diseases, thus saving time and speeding up the treatment planning process. A variety of technologies have been created to quantitatively segment medical image data for nerves, retina, and lungs, among others. However, certain quantitative techniques for assessing medical images are unreliable and take a long time to examine the vast amount of data. 

To further understand how artificial intelligence is disrupting the healthcare industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Healthcare


GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.